« EelmineJätka »
I paused for an answer, but he would make none, and Tyler exclaimed :
• There, you see the sort he is! Let him go, eh? Give him another dozen, more like.'
•Well, it seems he is a stubborn boy,” I said; still I cannot stand by and see him tormented ;' and without further parley I cut the string. I had laid hold of his collar intending to administer a few words of admonition ere letting him go; but before I could speak he had deftly twisted himself loose and dashed away.
'You'd a better let him had the dose out, Sir,' said Tyler, somewhat sulkily; 'I wouldn't go to be cruel to any youngster, but with such as Captain Rust you must be hard if you mean to do any good with 'em.'
• Captain Rust!' I exclaimed, 'Do you mean to say that was Captain Rust?'
"Why, yes,' said the pensioner ; 'who did you think it was? There ain't another Captain Rust, I expects; or, if there is, that un's the original character; and a beauty he is, without paint.'
The following morning I was going along a street from which side streets branched on either side, when I became conscious that I was being dogged. I could hear a pattering of bare feet behind me; but whenever there was any indication of stopping or turning on my part, I could tell by the sound that the person following me rushed down the nearest side street. At length, feeling more irritated than alarmed, I determined to ascertain by whom I was being followed ; and, striding hastily back to the top of a narrow street, whom should I behold but Captain Rust, trying to so flatten himself into a doorway as to be screened from sight. He now darted out, but, having retreated well out of reach, he came to a standstill as if undecided what to do. Presently he began to come cautiously forward, and on getting within earshot, opened parley :
May I speak to you, guv-Sir?' he called out stammeringly. “Of course you can,' I answered.
‘And you won't go a-collarin' of me, or a-giving me into charge for making a row at the school ? '
No; I would do nothing against him for what was past,'I answered.
Honour bright ?' he questioned dubiously. 'Honour bright,' I answered; and then he came confidently up to
' And now what do you want to say ?' I asked.
Well, you see,' he began slowly and with a rather puzzled air, it ain't esackly as I've got anythink to tell you like; on’y I see you
goen along, and I thinks to myself, I ought to say " Thank you ” to him, and I was a-comin' right up, when I thinks as well, perhaps he'll lumber me, and that was what put me folloren you up in sich an in-and-out style-so thank you, Sir.'
•You mean for cutting you loose last night?' I said.
· Yes, Sir,' he answered. 'I wouldn't knuckle down to old Ben and that lot; but it did hurt me orfle, and wasn't I glad to get away ! and I'll never get on with any games at the school again, I wouldn't be such a bad un as that ’ud come to, arter you cutting of me down; and if any of the rest on 'em gets a molestin' of you, it'll be them and me for it.'
'I should like you to come to school as a scholar,' I said, 'only in the evening; now, will you come ?'
He paused in evident embarrassment, but at length he said:
'I can't, Sir; I scrats for myself, and I'm on lays as takes me pretty well all my time.'
I felt drawn towards the sturdy little fellow, and, seeing some of his arab companions approaching, and desiring to have a little quiet talk with him, I asked :
Have you had any breakfast this morning?'
'O, only round at B-S,' I answered, naming a coffee-house, just outside a neighbouring shipyard's gates.
* But I didn't speak to you to get you to stand anythink,' said the captain sturdily.
His mind set at ease upon this point, the captain accompanied me with cheerful alacrity, and a few minutes later was seated at a breakfast, which, though plain, I took care was substantial and plentiful. Sipping at a cup of coffee, and appearing to be absorbingly interested in a week-old
paper, I let the captain finish his meal without interrupting him by talk, or embarrassing him by any notice; and a very hearty meal he made.
He was the first to break silence. Twitching me by the sleeve, he whispered : Does
yer have to pay for the lot?' A glance at the table showed me the captain's drift, and I briefly answered :
Yes.' *Well, that un,' he whispered, indicating & slice of bread and butter still left upon the plate, 'is one too many for me now-ean I
I nodded assent, and the next instant he had stowed it away in the pocket of his ragged jacket, and then with a sigh of pleasure he exclaimed:
• Wouldn't it be jolly to have a blow-out like this every day! But there," he added in a slightly disappointed tone, you does have as much as you likes every day.' And don't you?' I asked, by way of drawing him out.
Why, no,' he said ; 'plenty o' days I don't. I don't more days than I do, and nows and thens there's days when I don't get any at all.'
Well, captain,'I began, adding in a laughing, apologetical way, 'I must call you Captain Rust, you know, as I don't know your proper name.'
'Which everybody does call me Captain Rust, and I don't mind,' he put in; ‘on’y if you want to know my proper name it's Bill White.'
• Well, then, Bill,' I said, “about your coming to the school, you may take my word as a friend, that it would be the best thing you could do for yourself ; a boy or man that can't read or write has very little chance of getting on in the world nowadays. Come, now,' I urged, on seeing that he remained silent, 'there is nothing to pay, and it's only at night, you know, you could
can't rust in the dark.' But it ain't dark till late now,' he said; all the same I don't rust at night, but now as it's the summer I'm on another lay as I do go arter at night.'
What lay is it?' I asked.
My looks intimated that I did not know, for he went on in an explanatory tone:
· Mud-larkin' and cart-wheelin'. I meets the wans coming back from the bean-feasts and the like, and turns cart-wheels along the road beside 'em, and sings out to those on 'em, “Chuck-out-yermouldy-coppers,” and there's mostly some good-natured uns among ’em. Then other times I works down ’long shore to the Trafalgar, where the swells as come down to the whitebait feeds are out in the what-docalls—in front of the winders, you know, and I does a bit of tumblin' afore 'em, and then sings for them to chuck out their coppers.' "That may be all very fine now, Bill,'I said ; ' but you
should remember that, after a while, you'll be getting too big for those sort of games, and if you are not a little bit of a scholar, you won't have much chance of making a man of yourself. You had better give up the mouldy-copper lay, and attend the night-school.'
'I must knock out a living how I can,' he muttered.
'Have you no one to help you ?' I asked; ‘no parents, no father or mother?'
'I ain't got no mother,' he answered, and his voice grew low and trembling, and a look of sadness came over his face. “It’ud be different with me if I had. I dessay I should ’a been at school afore now if she'd a been left; she stuck to me through thick and thin. I only wish I did have her now.
But I dunno neither,' he added quickly, she had an orful time of it, and a good deal through a takin' of my part. He used to wollop us dreadful, particlaly poor mother; he killed her orf by inches.'
• Your father, you mean?' I said. 'I does, and no one else,' he said, his eyes flashing angrily. • And is he dead too?' was my next question. 'No; wuss luck,' he answered promptly. “I'd ’a been a lot better off if he had been. He worn't content with kicking me out; if ever he thought I had a few ha’pence he'd come arter me and shake 'em out o' me, and gie me a hidin' if I said anything agen it. Howsumever,' he went on, his face brightening again as he spoke, he's pretty nigh as good as dead to me; he's doen time—ten years' penal, and he had a back-scratchin' into the bargain. A woman
as know'd my mother read it all out of a noosepaper to me, and didn't I larf when it said how he ’owled when they were givin' him the “cat." I know'd he was chicken-'arted. Though he used to knock us about so, I've heard men put him down like old boots, and he hadn't a word to say for hisself. Agen he's out next time, I'll be man enough for him myself, an' if he comes near me then I'll smash like that,' and he brought his fist down fiercely on the coffee-room table.
O, come, Bill,' I said, laying a hand upon his shoulder, you must not have such thoughts as that, they are wicked.'
*You may think so,' he answered somewhat doggedly; but you don't know how I've been knocked about; and mother, poor mother!' he added, his voice dropping to a murmur.
But there!'he resumed suddenly, as if wishing to shake off some train of thought, I must be goin'.'
You have given me no answer about the school, though,' I said, as he rose to his feet.
“I told you the lay I was on,' he answered.
• Well, but if I can find you something to do in the day-time to make up for that lay, will you come to school then ?'
'I wouldn' like to say anythink to you, Sir, that I mightn't stick to, he answered, and so I'd rather not promise ; leastwise not now, perhaps I'll come in the winter.'
(To be concluded.)
MY HEART IS FIXED.'
I will sing and give praise.'-Psalm lvii. 7.
My heart is fixed:' erewhile it turned May try her secret wiles ;
Aside like a bent bow; I will not heed her flattering words,
Nor would the river to the sea Or her alluring smiles.
Within its borders flow. ‘My heart is fixed:' adversity
My heart is fixed : ' I'll sing, O God ! May send its bitter wind,
I'll sing, and give Thee praise; I'll spread my wings to meet the
Let storm or sunshine be my lot, blast,
Adverse or prosperous days.
In midnight shades the nightingale shall rest
Sings happy in the dark;
And when the cold, blue morning Upon Thy righteous will ;
breaks, As sleeps the fledgling in the nest, The moonlight on the hill.
Carols the mounting lark. And undismayed my heart shall keep So I will sing and give Thee praise,
Her heavenward, homeward track; Because my heart is fixed : The storm-bird bold to ride the wind Bitter and sweet are in my cup, Will not be beaten back.
The good is all unmixed.
BY THE LATE REV. W. M. PUNSHON, LL.D. THE The vile council which met to compass Daniel's ruin laid their
scheme cunningly. They knew him to be faithful, faithful in all respects; and it may be that like that other famous council of which Milton sings, they were about to separate in despair without accomplishing their purpose, when some Belial spirit suggested that his fidelity to man should be pitted against his fidelity to God. The scheme succeeded. The king's consent was hastily gained to the promulgation of a decree, that for thirty days no petition should be offered to God or man, save to the king's own majesty ; and the men, who knew Daniel's habit of prayer, exulted as they deemed his ruin
How will Daniel meet this new peril? It is inevitable. Darius cannot relent, for the law of the Medes and Persians altereth not.' Then, shall Daniel yield ? Shall there be evasion, compromise, delay ? His manner was to retire, that he might commune with God undisturbed ; to kneel in the prostration of a spirit at once contrite and dependent; to open his window towards Jerusalem, that the prayer
By the Rev. W. MORLEY PUNSHON, LL.D. London: T. Woolmer, 2, Castle-street, City-road, E.C.